While your job can bring you satisfaction, it is not the sole source of your happiness.
Work is the vehicle to get what you want, whether it be the freedom to devote yourself to your passions in your free time, or to reach your financial goals. Don’t fall for the passion myth, you won’t find your life passion in your job.
For most of us, creating a sustainable and successful career out of our life’s one true passion will never happen.
Harsh? Maybe. True? Yes.
Your work and passion don’t need to be one and the same. A passion is not any less legitimate because you don’t do it for a living, nor are you less satisfied by not being passionate about your 9-5 job.
Work is a means to various ends. It is not an end in itself. We work to live, support our families, and pursue pastimes. Historically, passion never really factored into the work equation.
Today, the internet has created an illusory link between passion and work, the passion myth. Social media projects into our homes and bedrooms the idea (through our neighbours) that our work must be our passion, and vice versa. This is selective truth at best, and a lie at work.
But what this all means is that we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves to find passion in our jobs. We have convinced ourselves that if we are not passionate, we are doing it wrong, we are failing at our jobs and then become unhappy. The passion myth, in itself, is dangerous.
The passion myth: The perfect job doesn’t exist
If you are passionate about what you do, fantastic. You have proved that it is not impossible.
But I hate to break it to you: the perfect job doesn’t exist, no matter how passionate you are about it at the beginning. This is a harsh dose of reality that few people are willing to accept.
So much of what we do for work relies on factors external to our passion, our interests or our talents. Our experience at work is influenced by our colleagues, our managers, our responsibilities, the institution or our clients. These can cause stress and anxiety and can put our passion at risk.
At the end of the day most jobs – even if it is your passion – become just that, a job.
It sounds negative, I know. But it is a theme that Oliver Burkeman explores in his book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. Burkeman argues that the modern approach to happiness distorts our idea of the causes of success and that we begin to derive less joy from our pleasures and passions when they get “relegated to the backdrop of our lives”.
The trick is – particularly those of you who are not turning your passions into jobs – is to avoid focusing solely on your passions but on what motivates and satisfies you.